Fun Friday: New Way To Wear That Black Dress

These probably aren't suitable for a wedding, but then, no black dress ever is. Hand-drawn onto shrinkable plastic, these cute and whimsical black dress earrings have been sealed with water-based polyurethane so they're safe and shiny. Each dress is 1 inch long and cute as a button. Just $10 from Button Envy.

Have a terrific weekend, and stay away from those malls!

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Midnight Beauty

All right, even Hubby (peeking over my shoulder) saw this and thought it was very pretty. From Red27 Jewelry, this square pendant necklace (no, you're not a square if you wear it, just the opposite) is unique and sophisticated. The square is made of an abalone shell in a gorgeous dark blue; the silver disc hanging within the shell is hematite. The pendant hangs from a sterling silver cable-style necklace
all closes in back with a lobster clasp, and one of the larger ones, too, so it's easier to fasten and unfasten. I think the square pendants and jewelry are often more interesting than the usual round shapes and even prefer square-faced watches on the rare occasion I wear one. There's something...solid and organized about them, though that could just be the blondness speaking.

This beauty is $27 and one of a kind; the artist may make things using similar inspiration but nothing exactly like a piece she's done before. Admirable creativity on her part! Red 27 also offers bracelets, earrings, rings, and even anklets, much of her work featuring beautiful natural materials.


Woolen Plaid

This wool/poly plaid skirt from Funky Frum looks perfect for this season, doesn't it? Fitted through the waist and hips, there's just enough of a flair at the hemline to add a bit of swoosh (just a professional version thereof). There are vent pleats on the bottom, and I like the way the skirt has been cut, too; this should fit very well. Two pockets with retro-style button loop closures sit just below the waistline. The colours are just right for winter, and the heavy, warm wool is definitely what your legs are hoping for to keep them warm right now. This would look great with a pair of tall boots and cream sweater, maybe like this one, or perhaps this shirred polo top in moss green, chocolate, or wheat, both also from Funky Frum. A white silk blouse would go well with this skirt also.

$68 from Funky Frum, and in sizes from Small to Extra Large.


Prettiest Bird's Nest

Bird's nest rings have become popular in recent years, but the one we usually see (which has been featured here in the past) are silver wire with pearls or pearlescent beads set into the wrapped wire. Unsurprisingly, the talented Megan of Casto Creations has her own spin on the chic nature-themed wearable.

Megan's version of the bird's nest is topped with a gorgeous, smooth Carnelian of the deepest orange with a hint of red. The sterling silver wire wraps around the base of the stone, weaving itself into a nest with sterling beads to add interest. Thanks to the different shapes of the beads, it really does look a bit like a birds' nest, and lends more depth and interest to the ring.

Each handmade ring is available from size 4 to 10 and is just $27 (size 10 is $28.50), and it's one of those pretty finishing touches you'll love to wear, but it might also make a great gift for a friend.

Now, I can personally vouch for the beauty and quality of Megan's work; while I didn't win one of the fantastic, gigantic gift baskets from the Happily Handmade Giveaway, I did win a gift certificate to Casto Creations. It took a while to decide what I wanted the most, as everything she makes is gorgeous, but I finally decided on this gaspeite and turquoise bracelet. I never posted it, though, because I just couldn't get a good picture; furthermore, it appeared that the bracelet was off the site. This is why one should always check the artist's gallery, though, and when I did so tonight, there it was!
Not only is it beautiful and wonderfully made, I get quite a few compliments on it; it's one of my favourite things to wear. Take that in hand with the fact that Megan is fun to chat with via email and you've got a definite winner.

Have a great night! There's a Red Wings game on, and I simply must pay full attention. ;)


Snuggly Soft Floral Top

Did you have a wonderful Thanksgiving? I hope it was full of love and family and fun, and that you didn't run into any of the travel snags we've heard about on the news. We took fun US 22 down to Cinci and 7 and 50 back. US 50 has beautiful farms all along the way; really, 7 was the most disappointing leg, particularly as it runs right along the Ohio river. Still, it was far better than the boring, bland interstate, and when the clouds cleared about 8PM to reveal a full moon beaming down upon the waters, it helped things quite a bit. Regardless, we'll probably be sticking to 22 and 50 from now on, though Marietta, Ohio (on 7) is a rather charming little town.

Well, let's kick off the week with this simple, sleek jersey tee. Long sleeved with what appears to be very slight ruching at the sleeve/bodice joint, this top is bedecked with a somewhat minimalist floral design running from the shoulder along one side. The shirt comes in either olive green or beige, and in sizes from small to XXL. From designer Alis' Rock Al Designs, this $29 top will look great with jeans, dress pants, and skirts. Layer it over another tee or a cami for extra warmth if necessary and you're good to go!

Alis' shop is full of these jersey tees, many with similarly modern and elegant floral designs and in several different colours, all handmade in Los Angeles.


Golden Beauty

As I mentioned last week, I've been trying to hunt down beautiful yet modest party-appropriate dresses for all of the coming Christmas and New Year's parties due to the number of hits Pretty/Modest has been getting for those search terms. Like most of you, I know what it's like to have a formal event approaching but no dress because it's often difficult to find one that is elegant, fashionable and pretty yet appropriate for an adult in a civil society. Finding such party attire usually requires a little extra work, and more than once I've had to do something horrible (like last fall, when I had nothing but a black dress to wear to a wedding, oh the horror!) because nothing suitable could be found in time, though of course a week later, I would find myself with the pick of the litter. Surely you've been in the same spot?

Having experienced this frustration, I am happy to alleviate the pain for you by pointing out the beautiful, ladylike dresses I find before the holiday party rounds start up again. Yet another example, though far more subdued than the gorgeous dress I featured Friday, is this sublime and elegant 24K dress from Shabby Apple.

Made of gold satin, the dress has an empire waist boasting metallic buttons that's polished, not reminiscent of mid-90s maternity wear. Buttoned cap sleeves and a shirt collar that can be worn up or flat finish off the look, though I really like how high the hem is seamed, too. The back of this dress appears to have princess seams for perfectly flattering shaping, again reducing the possibility that other party-goers will ask when you're expecting (no, I don't like empire waistlines, what made you ask?). And don't forget the two hidden pockets!

Though hourglass figures like myself tend not to look that great in empire waist items, dresses can be a bit more forgiving, and the allure of satin is almost too much to resist — particularly in this flattering shade of gold. This dress is perfect not just for New Year's and Christmas, but weddings (like fall ones?) too. $98 from Shabby Apple. Shabby Apple, like Christa Taylor, is another shop started by young ladies who couldn't find smart dresses that covered while being flattering; the whole shop is full of dresses I'd be thrilled to have in my closet, and I daresay most of you will like them, too!

Speaking of Christa's, it's only nice of me to tell you she's having a 20% off sale Friday through Sunday. No malls! No crowds! No tired salespeople!

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving Eve, I'll be busy whipping up orange-cranberry sauce (Hubby's aunt made this delicious stuff last year, but I was horrified when, upon asking for the recipe, she'd put about 5 cups of sugar into it) and doing overall prep for Thanksgiving Day. It's one of my favourite holidays, not least of all because of its meaning: that we should, indeed need to, remember to be thankful for all we have, however much or little. My attitude is, "It could be a lot worse!"

Anyhow, I won't be here tomorrow as far as I know, nor Thursday, and quite possibly not Friday. Whatever shall we do?

Regardless, have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving weekend, and be careful if you dare go out. That said, why not take the Handmade Pledge and do all of your shopping at places like Etsy?


Striped Perfection

Well, this dress isn't exactly wintry-weather wear (though I am certain some of our more sartorially intrepid readers could easily figure out a few ways to make it so), but after I saw it and continued looking, it just wouldn't leave my mind. It has to be the snappy collar and the pretty puffed, 3/4 length cuffed sleeves. Wonderful touches, aren't they? The collar has got to be my favourite part of the dress; quite stylish!

One thing I must admit to not being a fan of is the wearing of pants or leggings with vintage (or any) dresses. It seems that this trend, however lamentable, began when people began wearing leggings with tunics, because tunics are of course too short to be worn as dresses. While I appreciate this nod to modesty, it's just not necessary to wear leggings or, worse, pants with a dress, especially a vintage one, particularly if it's longer like this one. Doesn't that negate the point of wearing a dress? Yes, it's cold, but that is why God made boots and warm stockings (I hear old-style patterned cotton is back). Certainly it's all right to wear leggings under your dress during the run into the office, but...all day? It makes me sad. For me at least, they distract from the dress at best and look plain sloppy at worst (yes, there are worse things than distracting one's eyes from a pretty dress...!).

Anyhow. I'm not positive regarding the sizing of this vintage dress, as we're not told whether it's measured flat or not, aren't given bust or hip measurements...The listing says it's a medium/large with a waist that measures 20.5" across, but if that is a flat measure, this is definitely a large dress with a 41" waist; if you're lookimng for that size, definitely email the seller, good wiu!

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Fun Friday: Fabulous Print, Fabulous Dress

Wow! Is this 50s vintage dress fantastic or what? This Asian-inspired print, cheerful greens over a black background, looks like ferns and flowers, with intermittent paisley-like bursts of turquoise, coral, white, and pink, make this one of the most festive and fun dresses I've seen in a long time. The contrasting neckline and hemline of pink and a sort of curry draw one's eyes right up to the face and serve to tone the dress down a bit, pulling it all together. The matching belt is included, and the dress, in great condition, zips right up the side. Once again, we find another fun, exciting dress that's very flattering yet modest. The full skirt will give the appearance of a nipped waist, the neckline is high enough to cover but V-necks always flatter and broaden the shoulders...this is such a wonderful little treat.

This one is a modern-sized large, with measurements of 40-32-free (though the belt, should you choose to wear it, makes it a 30-inch waist). It's such a sweet, pretty dress, so cheerful...you're bound to love wearing it, and it would be tempting to just hang it on the wall to look at as an art piece — but that would be a shame if that's all this frock ever got to do. This one was meant to be worn to parties! Bidding starts at $49.99 on eBay, and this gem from Luketania's Vintage can be yours until the bidding ends November 22 (yes, Thanksgiving Day). Snap this beautiful dress up today and I can guarantee no one will have anything like it.

Have a great weekend!


Morning Beauty from the Lotus Collection
“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Bless the mercies that allow me to stumble across such talented artists with unique perspectives and style. Isn't this Dawning Forest necklace a splendid, pretty thing? An elegantly carved piece of wood is flanked on one side by pale pink moonstone, all strung along a really different-looking sterling silver chain. Moonstone graces the clasp in back as well. It seems, according to the description, that this necklace was inspired by a forest at sunrise. Just $29.50 from The Lotus Collection.

I must say, everything at Lotus Collection is really lovely, but of course, since it's all made with natural materials, primarily semiprecious stones, you shouldn't be surprised by my affection for what's going on here. From the artistic, like Dawning Forest, to the traditional, like this Chinese Porcelain necklace, you'll find something for you or someone else to love — and there's plenty for the lover of fun, modern jewelry, too.

Artist Jean Chen will replicate any of her work in gold if that's your metal of choice. If you'd like to see her and her work in person, be sure to head over to the Etsy Dallas Trunk Show at the Southside Lofts December 8!


Plum Perfect

Checking my site stats the other day to see what y'all are coming here for, I noticed a lot of hits looking for modest, pretty holiday dresses. I'll do my best to point you in the right direction, since that seems to be what everyone is looking for, understandably so with all those Christmas and New Year's parties coming. It won't be every single night, but I'll do my best to find lovely, ladylike dresses & skirt/top combos (because separates are wonderful for holiday parties, too) as often as I can. Have a suggestion? Drop me an email or leave a comment, because I'm always looking for new designers!

This wildflower dress by Whish is very pretty and charming, easily mixed with other things in your wardrobe, and looks very comfy. The v-neckline is enough to flatter without exposing, and all those ruffles and pleats are really terrific stylistic touches as well as very flattering. Feminine without being cloying, this $79.99 dress will go with your favourite pumps, tall boots, or comfy-day flats; it would>look really cute topped with a simple, clean-lined jacket or sweater, and especially pretty with a warm wrap at a Christmas or Thanksgiving party (bonus: that cranberry relish won't leave much of a mark on this colour, will it?). Available from Modcloth, where you'll find all kinds of vintage and indie-made clothing, accessories, and goodies for your home.

Have a great night!


Megan Auman Steel Jewelry

One of the artists whose work I was really impressed by at Handmade Arcade Saturday is Megan Auman. This Pennsylvania resident creates jewelry with steel, and the simple, clean lines of her work were just so striking. Elegant and sophisticated but still accessible, her work really reminded me of a lot of the patterns I've seen in my recent studies of Art Deco, Craftsman, and related tapestries and woodwork and their integration into homes of those styles (full disclosure: I adore both Art Deco — hailing as I do from Detroit, considered by many to be the "Art Deco capital of the world" — and Craftsman). One finds many stylized flowers and flower motifs in each form of architecture and art, and I've begun amassing a small collection of such images.

As it turns out, there was a reason Megan's splendid work triggered my memories of these things. From her artist's statement on her blog:

The floral patterns I employ in my work are inspired by the patterns that appear on both printed and embroidered textiles. The patterns also borrow from contemporary advances in digital textile production that eliminate the need for repeat patterning. Floral patterned textiles have often played a crucial role in the creation of the home, yet the rise of Modernism relegated these patterns to the margins. The removal of floral patterned textiles from the home parallels the devaluation of domesticity and femininity in interior decoration. However, the recent outburst of floral patterned objects coincides with a renewed interest in the home.

By recreating furnishings and pillows using floral patterns rendered in steel wire, I eliminate the need for internal structure. Each object becomes a visual signifier of the ideals of the home, rather than a functional object. The loss of function highlights the tension between comfort and display in the contemporary home. I eliminate conventional indications of comfort such as padding and fabric through the use of steel.

Well then. Apparently I was close to the same wavelength. What a marvellous way to bring these patterns and ideas back, and so prettily as well.

These double drop flower earrings really, really caught my attention at the show, but there were so many people about I just couldn't get close enough to touch them (though as you saw, I got a decent shot of her table). The graceful curves end in simple blooms reminiscent of tulip or roses. Not at all ostentatious, they're not plain or boring, either. As I said, it's an understated elegance. $80.

Megan's shop also offers bracelets, necklaces, and rings, and has several sale items at the moment as well. It's wonderful to see someone making an artistic statement without being...well, brash or obnoxious, but instead doing so with real thoughtfulness and contemplation. I dare say her execution of intent is really quite clever, and that's definitely something to be thankful for.


Calling in sick...

Some little bug caught me yesterday and I'm under the weather. Nothing major, and I'll be back tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a picture of an apron I whipped up, and why not check out my report on this past weekend's Handmade Arcade arts & crafts extravaganza here in the 'burgh? :)


Handmade Arcade 2007 Report
This morning, Hubby and I took off to Handmade Arcade at Construction Junction downtown. After some traffic issues (it's interesting that only the routes out of downtown are under perpetual construction...), we managed to get there and had a really fun time. It was crowded (as usual) and a bit cold at first, explaining why some of these shots are blurry; my hands were shaking! We ran into Lisa from just be — she and I met over at the Knot while planning our weddings, and we had the opportunity to chat with some really interesting people. Maybe, just maybe, I'll have my own booth there next year. In the meantime, though, I hope you enjoy my semi-live report from Handmade Arcade '07! It's open tomorrow, too, from 11 to 5, so if you're in the Pittsburgh area, it's worth a visit.

Tapeworks bags and accessories:

Tape Works

The watermelon bag and the b&w one are so cute, aren't they?

All the way from Richmond, Virginia, here's Ono of Sew Ono ap*par*el:

Sew Ono
Sew Ono

I bought a very cute apron from her, but as you can see, she has all sorts of cute stuff. She's very nice, and agreed that it was quite chilly!

Squeaky Queen Soap Laboratory, home of divine-smelling soaps. The Enchanted Forest is particularly nice...I really regret not grabbing a few. They'll make great hostess gifts for all of the approaching holiday parties.

Squeaky Queen Soap Laboratory
Squeaky Queen Soap Laboratory

See those soaps in the foreground with little black corsets on them? She made her husband tie those. ;) The packaging on the soaps is so nice - much of it is actually cloth scraps, some has buttons on it, all of it with cute prints. Again, great as gifts!

Friend or Foe stuffies, aprons, dog toys, and accessories:

Friend or Foe
Friend or Foe

Each stuffie is either a friend...or foe. Snuggle carefully. ;)

Beautiful, clean lines in steel wire from Megan Auman of Jonestown, PA:

Megan Auman Jewelry

Handcrafted jewelry from Jessica Beebe:

Jessica Beebe Handcrafted Jewelry
Jessica Beebe Handcrafted Jewelry

That's Jessica and her model, who also happens to be her sister. No website for Jessica in my stack of business cards, but if you're reading this, Jessica, let me know and I'll happily correct that.

All sorts of clever papery goodness from Pink Bathtub Designs, especially these Jet Set journals, printed with letters and numbers corresponding to major airports. Fun idea!

Pink Bathtub Designs
Pink Bathtub Designs

Charming Caitlin from Rebound Designs. Note the Nancy Drew purses! These are all very fun and cute, with just about every title you can imagine. This was a very popular booth at the Arcade! Caitlin told me she really loves making them, and she's of such cheerful countenance and demeanor one knows she means it.

Rebound Designs

I don't knit or crochet, but can clearly see that these yarns from City Spun are just gorgeous. The colour is rich and luscious, and the yarns are so, so soft and luxurious to the touch. That's Jessica spinning away, right at Handmade Arcade. It's not uncommon to see the artists creating during the fair.

City Spun

Huge, cheerful hand-printed tea towels from Fisk & Fern, wooden spoon included! They offered darling cards, art prints and fun moleskine books as well.

Fisk & Fern

Gooorgeous hand-dyed and screen-printed slips from Lavender Zebra Press. I love vintage slips, and these are so, so pretty. I'm ashamed to say I didn't catch the artist's name, but I can tell you that in addition to being talented — she designs all the screenprints herself — she's adorable and fun to talk to. Even if she wouldn't let me take a picture of her with her stuff.

Lavender Zebra Press
Lavender Zebra Press

It was extraordinarily difficult to choose just one.

Body treats with retro labels from Disquieting Designs:

Disquieting Designs

Fun whimsy from Cleo Dee's, who was hosting a squid market today. They even had a squid nativity and ornaments, which are also available in their shop.

Cleo Dee's
Cleo Dee's: Embroidered Skirt

How do you like that embroidered skirt bottom? Something tells me our Remington would be insulted by the very idea we'd ask him to pull a cart about...which is probably why Hubby found this so amusing.

You just know that everything from Aqua Cherry is going to be beautiful. Another super-busy booth, so much so I couldn't really get a good shot of all the fabulous handbags.

Cosy Knits (literally), and she's not kidding! Some of these were sooooo soft... The second shots are of her knit headbands, yet another terrific idea for blustery days when the wind is determined to not just freeze your ears off, but hopelessly tangle your hair beyond even Cousin It disastrousness.

Cosy Knits (literally)
Cosy Knits (literally)

Fun dinosaur handbags and other goodies from lil bunny. This was another shop where nearly everything was incredibly soft to the touch.

lil bunny
lil bunny

We spent a while chatting with the folks at Jennie Stephens' booth. She was also offering jewelry, decor pillows (love the red bird) and fiberart. Aren't the ornaments darling?

Jennie Stephens
Crystala Armagost
Crystala Armagost

Really pretty art cards from Fine Cuts. No website or email, but if you're the artist (you know who you are...!), please contact me. She started by using an Exact-O Knife to cut images from catalogs, then making collages with the results. These are more digitally produced, but really beautiful. I should have snapped a couple up to frame.

Fine Cuts

Very feminine and pretty handmade knit wearables from Lagelle. They've an Etsy shop, too. The colours are beautiful; this picture hardly does them justice.


Finally, last but certainly not least, these terrific lamps from Kirkiture. I really love the Craftsman influence, and so did others; we saw a few folks walking around with them.


This doesn't nearly cover everyone who was there; as I said, it was jam-packed, making it difficult to take pictures, but that didn't make it any less fun. I'll share with you what I picked up...well, as soon as there's enough light to take a great shot.

Oh! However could I have forgotten...

In the Bag

Vegan red velvet cupcake from CoCo's Cupcakes, Pittsburgh's own cupcake bakery and a Handmade Arcade sponsor. Yum. It's one of our favourite places, and owner Shea is just...well, I hope it's okay to say she's a sweetheart and a doll. We chatted with her for a while, too; thankfully, she recognized me and snagged us from the masses. If you're a 'burgher, hie thee to CoCo's! As it's right down the street from Pittsburgh's finest sushi, you've got both major food groups in one place. ;) Honest to goodness, were it closer, I'd get a job there just for the fun of it.

Have a great remainder of your weekend!

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